Reviews & features: Books

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Jackie Kay: Finding Family

12 Aug 2010

Red Dust Road is a remarkable account full of passion and humour

The ideas of belonging and identity are at the very core of what it means to be human, but those themes become much more complex when the person in question is adopted. The adopted person’s search for their biological parents is a familiar narrative…

Jah Wobble

12 Aug 2010

Jon Wardle’s memoir about his life as Jah Wobble has given him a taste for writing.

‘I was encouraged to write a book by the people in my band,’ says John Wardle, the English musician and singer who goes by the name Jah Wobble on his tour posters. ‘I’d tell them stories from years ago and have them in stitches, so when they’d tell me I…

Edinburgh Book Fringe - Elaine Henry interview

12 Aug 2010

The owner of Word Power Books answers five questions

Why did you set up the Edinburgh Book Fringe in the first place? To give local writers, small publishers and writers outwith the mainstream the sort of voice or platform they wouldn’t get access to during the festival period. Can you describe the…

Alice Thompson

12 Aug 2010

The Edinburgh novelist gets used to the spotlight

‘It’s a great honour to be asked to appear at the Edinburgh Book Festival,’ says Alice Thompson. ‘It’s like being knighted.’ And no one deserves it more than this Edinburgh-based author. Her fifth and most recent work, The Existential Detective, finds…

Allan Brown will discuss Inside the Wickerman

12 Aug 2010

His batty book analyses the cult classic

Inside the Wicker Man is a cinema lover’s dream. The book is packed with fascinating trivia from the horror classic it explores, along with in-depth analysis and humour; and it’s a pleasure to find its author Allan Brown just as funny in everyday…

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Amy Sackville

12 Aug 2010

Retreating into imagined worlds of the past

Amy Sackville’s debut novel, The Still Point, is an Arctic love story which has already drawn comparisons with Virginia Woolf. Set in modern England, Julia is the great-grand-niece of an explorer whose story fascinates her and she often dreams about the…

David Mitchell

12 Aug 2010

Dreaming up the non-existent

David Mitchell isn’t known for his simple approach to storytelling. His most recognisable work, the Booker-shortlisted Cloud Atlas, was described as having a ‘Rubik’s cube structure’. Ambitious and unconventional, it melted genres of airport…

Simon Rich

12 Aug 2010

Taking inspiration from the comedy greats

Simon Rich makes his first appearance as a fully fledged novelist at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. Although the 24-year-old Harvard graduate has written two anecdotal non-fiction comedy books in the past three years – Ant Farm: And…

John Harris at the Book Festival

12 Aug 2010

Hail Hail Rock'N'Roll: expect full audio-visual support

‘I will talk about rock moustaches, Elvis’ jumpsuits and James Blunt’s lyrics,’ proclaims John Harris, author of Hail Hail Rock’N’Roll, his vintage rock, pop and counter-cultural almanac. ‘The aim is to navigate through 50-odd years of rock history…

Marek Kohn

12 Aug 2010

Tackling climate change denial head-on

Think of Marek Kohn as the mouthpiece of the moderates in the climate change conversation. His new book, Turned Out Nice: How the British Isles will Change as the World Heats Up, strips the sensationalism from the story and projects a thoroughly…

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David McKee

12 Aug 2010

Discussing the inner monster

‘They’re like my children,’ smiles David McKee, the creator of such long-adored characters as Mr Benn, King Rollo and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. ‘You love them equally and they all demand attention at different times.’ The legendary storyteller and…

Owen Sheers

12 Aug 2010

Covering the poetic landscape of Britain

One of those infuriating people whose expansive CV (poet, novelist, playwright, actor, television presenter) is matched only by their down to earth charm, Wales’ Owen Sheers will be presenting two very different projects at the Book Festival. The first…

Courtyard Readings

12 Aug 2010

Read and listen to poetry at these outdoor readings

One of the loveliest annual events of the Festival season, these outdoor readings (don’t worry, they go indoors if/when it rains) hosted by the School of Poets are open to all poetry lovers. Come and read your own work, or a personal favourite poem, in…

Lars Husum and his novel My Friend Jesus Christ

6 Aug 2010

A wild and bizarre slapstick farce

Given that My Friend Jesus Christ reads like a Dogme movie, you can’t help but feel Lars Husum’s time working as a dramaturge at Lars von Trier’s Copenhagen film production company Zentropa fed into his debut novel. ‘It’s not conscious, but I see your…

Emily Woof at the Writer's Retreat

6 Aug 2010

The ex-actress conducts a deep involvement with language

Emily Woof first graced Edinburgh nude and on a trapeze for a trilogy of one-woman Fringe plays, under the Sex umbrella. And throughout The Whole Wide Beauty (the debut novel by The Full Monty and Wondrous Oblivion star), the loss of physical expression…

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Garth Nix kicks off this year's Book Festival

6 Aug 2010

What he has in store and why fantasy is making a comeback

Garth Nix, the bestselling Australian author of young people’s fantasy fiction, is both honoured and alarmed that he’ll be kicking off this year’s Book Festival with its very first session. ‘I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be talking about yet!’ Nix…

Natasha Walter's fight for women's equality

6 Aug 2010

She presents her new book Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism

Following sold out events at Brighton, Dublin, the South Bank and Latitude, writer and campaigner Natasha Walter is hitting the Edinburgh International Book Festival to stress that the struggle for women’s equality is as important as ever. To some…

Philip Pullman - The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ

6 Aug 2010

'The Most Dangerous Author in Britain' comes to the Book Festival

You will know him by the horns, of course, and the casual air of unholy sin. For Philip Pullman is the anti-God and ‘The Most Dangerous Author in Britain’, according to the modern gospel of The Mail on Sunday. To most of us, however, he is the avuncular…

Laura Barton talks about Twenty-One Locks

6 Aug 2010

The author describes why and how she wanted to write her novel

Born and raised in Lancashire, Laura Barton migrated south a decade ago, and found gainful employment with The Guardian. ‘I started writing a music column [Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll] in a style that was quite different to most journalism at the time,…

Gary Younge visits the Edinburgh Book Festival

6 Aug 2010

Exploring issues of identity across this mad world

Returning to Edinburgh holds bittersweet memories for Gary Younge. He was in the city as a student in the late 80s, studying Russian and French at Heriot-Watt and was awestruck by the geography of his new surroundings. ‘Having grown up in Stevenage…

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Alberto Manguel will discuss All Men Are Liars

6 Aug 2010

And why we should step back from the over-reliable narrator

Alberto Manguel’s latest book, All Men Are Liars, is ‘a tribute to falsehood’ in which no one is a reliable source; not the enigmatic figure whose death is being investigated, not those who knew him, nor Manguel himself. It’s a concept that challenges…

Candia McWilliam will discuss her memoir at the EIBF

6 Aug 2010

The festival veteran considers her own difficult story

‘I have loved the Edinburgh International Book Festival all its 22 years,’ says Charlotte Square Gardens veteran Candia McWilliam. ‘It makes an annual conversation about books and about thinking, about what it is to share in the examined life. It is…

Top five Scottish crime writers to catch at the EIBF

6 Aug 2010

The city that embodies vice and virtue welcomes the authors

With its Jekyll and Hyde nature, Edinburgh is the perfect spot for the portraiturists of good and evil to congregate. Here’s a quintet of Scottish scribes to catch this week Tony Black. Gus Drury is Black’s flawed bobby and in Long Time Dead, he’s…

Martin Bell discusses lack of faith in politicians in Edinburgh visit

6 Aug 2010

Festival of Politics and Book Festival appearances scheduled

The man in the white suit is in town for an event at the Festival of Politics but he’s also kindly dropping by to charm the punters in Charlotte Square. Here, he will be discussing the lack of faith we now have in our elected representatives, mainly due…

Nicolai Lilin: author of Siberian Education

5 Aug 2010

The writer tells of his time in prison, tattooing, and film offers

Handed his first weapon at the age of six, Nicolai Lilin was destined for a life of violence. Having fled the horrors of his past, he tells Jay Richardson why death is sometimes a better option. Born into a Siberian criminal dynasty, convicted of…